Friday, 20 April 2018


It's the smallest things that give pleasure...

I planted some nasturtium and sweet pea seeds last week and to my delight they germinated.

In past years they have often ended up rotten in soil that never warmed up.  (I keep them on the windowsill in trays.)

Last week John took this photo of a 'community' of snails on a rock when he and the family were on holiday in the south-west of Scotland.

I really like it! Maybe part of the reason I like it is that I have hunting for a colour of green for the cover of next season's music brochure that I put together.

There are so many 'greens'!  My usual practice is to find a picture of a bird and choose a shade from its plumage.  Here is my current working 'palette'

... that is until I have a go at finding a shade in John's photo.

Sunday, 25 March 2018


Ellie, now 3 years old, was with us for a couple of hours today.  We love having her about; she makes us laugh!  However today brought a slightly different experience.

She bounced into the kitchen (flinging her coat to the floor), sat down on the chair opposite me at the kitchen table and says (in a voice somewhat in the manner of her psychologist mum) "We need to talk about Big Ish. She's died.  [pause]  "She fell and hurt her leg and had to go to hospital. We're not going to see her any more. She's gone into ashes."  "Yes" I said. and pointed to the photo of her on the Rogue's Gallery picture board on the kitchen wall. "But we can think of her and we can keep her in our mind."  She looked at me thoughtfully for a brief moment, nodded without saying anything, and then proceeded to jump down from the table to turn her attention to more pressing matters like apple juice and chocolate biscuits.


Iain and I were impressed. Three years old! Iain has a very strong memory of one of his birthdays (I think it was his 4th).  He grandfather died on the exact day and nobody told him.  He remembers being very distressed that his grandfather was missing. Yes, people thought they were doing the best thing, i.e. didn't want to upset the child, but he feels strongly that not telling him was a mistake.

Meanwhile here is photo of Iain at about the same age as Ellie is now.  He has an expression on his face which I often see in Ellie, i.e. cheeky mischief.  

I haven't been able to capture it yet in Ellie, and have only the following photo of John's which, at least, shows the similarity across the eys.

And finally ....

Ellie at the window of Iseabail's flat in Edinburgh.

Monday, 19 March 2018


The funeral for Iseabail (or as Elsie Nelson used to say "oor Ish") was held on Monday March 5, 2018 in Edinburgh.  Iain conducted it.  It was held in Mortanhall Crematorium on a very cold day (5 days after a blizzard with snow still piled everwhere).  Iain and Bruce were the main speakers.  In other words, we conducted it ourselves therefore it was non-religious and non-Humanist in that respect.

The Order of Service is below.  This is a screenshot of the 4 pages. (I produced it.) I also organized Ryan Corbett to play at the service.  He is one of our Bearsden Young Fiddlers from a few years ago.  It proved to good choice both because he played the selections beautifully and also because he is a quiet lad who suited the setting -  solemn but not sad.


Both Iain and Bruce are comfortable lecturing and delivered their eulogies  'from the heart'.  What a difference to funerals where the person conducting the service, for very understandable reasons, does not know the deceased.

There were about 100 people there with about 80 coming the to Braidhills Hotel for tea afterwards.   That also was deemed a success.  It proved an excellent choice of  hotel (unknown to us) and we enjoyed meeting and greeting with Iseabail's friends and relations.

Iain set up a webpage on which there are photographs and written contributions:

Remebrances of Iseabail at

Finally somebody on Wikipedia was quick off the mark: Iseabail's date of death was there when I  typed in ISEABAIL CAMPBELL MACLEOD on Google.

So even though the book is now closed, metaphorically speaking, she is still there on the web and, of course, in all the reference books and dictionaries which formed so much of her working life.

Footnote:   Donations at the funeral to the Chest Heart and Stroke Association amounted to £771.17.  We topped this up and also 3 other people have sent cheques separately.  We also made a donation to the Stroke Unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to buy a piece of equipment.  Having arrived in an ambulance she was a patient there for 10 days and, indeed, where she died peacefully.  (For those of us who use, work for ... or used to work for... the National Health Service words cannot express our gratitude for its existence!)

Saturday, 3 March 2018


Some photos of 2 very long days of the blizzard which arrived 3 days ago. Yesterday was the third day of biting winds but no snow falling. Today, Saturday,  we are trying to recover!  Goodness!  It certainly makes one mindful of what it must have been like in the days before electricity, gas, cars, supermarkets and the like!

We were prepared with food and fuel as the weather forecasts were very good and the warnings were insistent!  Most ordinary folk just stayed in and hunkered down.  Schools and nurseries closed, shops shut.   The news reports of full of images of jack-knifed trucks and vans in the ditch along with heroic rescues and accident-avoidance videos.  Yes, there are as many stories of folk helping each other too.

I went out on Day 2 to walk to Mairi's house (CVD) to give her a day of Creche Duty.  This is my trip... which is nothing compared to John's trip to work. He walked for 2 hours to his GP Surgery on both days of the really bad weather.

The view out my window in the morning. Gerry across the street had a van he uses for mobility scooters plus his wife's car to dig out.

The only way to walk was down the middle of the street in the wheel tracks.  It was a case of 2 minutes of sun combined with 10 minutes of snow blasting in from the steppes of Russia! I knew that once I got down the hill to the main road I would be OK.

Success. With head down, I just joined other folk walking in the middle of the road.  No cars at all. One plow was out and an ambulance went by.

Approaching CVD house from Kilmardinny Avenue. I felt like Scott of the Antarctic trying to get to his hut!

Mairi's fence with Sandy and Lesley's house beyond.

 I made it ... the front door!

 Snowy boys arriving after me. (Alastair MacG and Alastair A)

My creche duty over I got the boots on again and headed home. The snow come and went all day. The children and I watched the continuous snow flurries and biting wind out the living room window all day ... quite unbelievable!  Street, gardens, driveways, shop fronts. bus shelters all got more and more covered with drifting snow!

Photos of the 2 Munchkins at play coming next post.


Wednesday, 28 February 2018


Let's hear it for the weather forecast people!  There has been notification for the past 48 hours that bad weather is on its way from the east.  Arctic weather is blowing in from Russia; they are calling it "The Beast from the East".

As predicted it arrived in the early hours of this morning and is set to continue for another 24 to 48 hours.

The warning to the public for Scotland was raised from yellow (be aware) to amber (be prepared i.e. for traffic disruption).  And at midday the central belt of Scotland was issued a Red Alert (serious trouble ahead with possible loss of life or property).

Early morning view of the back garden with the lovely flowers which were from John and Wendy and family in Australia.  They are in the porch-garden room where it is cold but great for keeping flowers from wilting; they'll last for weeks and weeks like this!
It has snowed off and on all day.  Schools are closed, messages on radio and TV are "Don't Go Out" unless it is really important.

Iain's car in the front of the house (north side).

My neighbour's back door!

The 2 'mingos in the garden now have snow up to their knees...and it is  set to continue!

Monday, 26 February 2018


Iain, who writes about bridges always tries to ensure there are no typos in his work. He had a wonderful moment of ‘schadenfreude’ when coming across this today: "The London Times, 1826, describing Queen Victoria traversing the Menai Bridge, announced in one headline, “THE QUEEN HERSELF PISSED GRACIOUSLY OVER THE MAGNIFICENT EDIFICE.”

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


A break from activities: a weekend in Dalvalich, on the shore of Loch Awe, Argyllshire
Bathing beauties in the hot tub  (JA)

In the hot tub

Temple Wood stone circle at Slockavullin near Kilmartin, Argyll (JA)

 Nether Largie Neolithic burial chamber, south entrance

 Nether Largie Neolithic burial chamber, top of the mound